A project by the Youth Section on Cultural Diversity, Current Affairs and the Future
Article by Guadalupe Olaizola, Juan Bottero and Andrea de la Cruz, members of the Youth Section at the Goetheanum
October 2017, Dornach – Thursday evenings are special for us at the Youth Section. Every week visitors from all corners of the world gather at the Youth Section House to discuss topics of relevance and interest for our generation. Any topic is welcome: from pedagogy to social initiatives, philosophy, science and art; the only requirements are that young people propose the theme of discussion, and that others are willing and interested to delve into it in collaboration with peers and sometimes lecturers and specialists on the subject.
The 2017/2018 Thursday sessions opened with “Mapamundi” a project that seeks to unleash the potential of the cultural diversity that the Goetheanum offers. Once a month, we invite young people from different countries to present, comment and reflect on their nationalities, what their home countries mean to them and how they define their national identities. It is also a space to put in common all the current affairs happening globally in the hope that we can find that invisible thread that connects us all, and understand how we can play our part responsibly in worldwide affairs.
The inspiration for the initiative came to the team members in a conversation that reflected on the opportunity that the Goetheanum offers to make friends from all over of the world. Some people spend years traveling around the globe, but when you live at the Goetheanum, the world comes to you! The Anthroposophical Studies is a clear example of this; only this year over 30 students coming from 21 different nationalities have arrived to Dornach!
In our conversations we noticed how the knowledge we have about countries and cultures tends to be constructed not out of our own interest and research, but out of a passive reception of what our installed education and mass media has to say about them. Would it not make sense to engage with a nation’s history, cultures, struggles and movements by listening to their inhabitants directly?
The initiative quickly resonated with other young people visiting the house and when we found an old, abandoned map in a cupboard, we felt ready to launch our first Youth Section Thursday Evening project.
At the first gathering 15 people from 12 countries in three different continents speaking 12 different languages, came together. After pinning the map with little flags signalling our origins, we attempted to define the essence of our nations, those qualities that were unique to them. We asked if and how these manifested in us, and whether we identified with them or not. In the second part, we took a step back to observe our nations as objectively as possible and identified key past events that had defined the present times and a current event taking place that we felt was defining our future histories. We explored these questions in small groups of two or three people, allowing the cultures to come together and get to know each other in this way. Later on we organised discussion groups by countries and continents. This methodology allowed us not only to observe the participant’s inputs, but also how different cultures and nations work together and relate to each other. The way in which the groups interacted with each other unveiled some key characteristics of the cultures present at the event, which in itself complemented what each participant described.
From this many new questions arose: what is the connection between historical events and cultural essence? How do these impact individuals’ lives? Can we recognize our differences and still choose to work together towards a common future?
These will be the themes and questions to explore in Mapamundi’s future gatherings, taking place at the Youth Section House (1 Dorneckstrasse) from 7pm on 2 November, 30 November, 11 January, 22 February, 15 March, 19 April and 17 May.
We look forward to welcoming you to the next meeting (2 November) when the group will focus on three countries and cultures to be presented by participants who attended the first event: Malaysia, Brazil and Estonia.
You can learn more about Mapamundi and other events organised by the Youth Section on our Facebook page (Youth Section at Goetheanum) or our website www.youthsection.org
The Youth Section Team